Help! My child takes their arms out of the car seat harness!

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The harness on your car seat is the only thing holding your child into their car seat and protecting them if you crash – so it’s very worrying when they keep getting their arms out! 

This article looks at things you can do to help your little one keep their car seat harness on properly.

  • Check the height of your car seat harness – the shoulder straps should be as level with your child’s shoulders as possible.  If you cannot get the straps to sit level across their shoulders, then they may dip just below when rear facing, or sit just above the shoulders when forward facing
  • Remove any thick, puffy or padded winter clothing.  This creates a gap between the child and the harness, which gives them plenty of room to get their arms out! As a general rule of thumb, indoor clothing only when in the car seat!
  • Check that your harness is being pulled tight enough, you shouldn’t be able to pinch the harness webbing at all top to bottom.
  • “Out of sight out of mind” – once you have fastened up the harness, use at thin, hoodless jacket over the top, but put it on backwards, so the back of the jacket is covering the buckle, but their arms are in the sleeves.
  • You could try using a reward chart, where the child collects a star or sticker each journey they keep their arms in. Our lovely friends at Child Seat Safety have designed this one which is free to download! REWARD CHART

If none of the above works, then it’s time to try some other options:

  • 5 Point Plus Anti Escape Device – this is a fully crash tested device that sits behind the child and folds around the straps, just above the seat buckle.  It blocks the gap the child is using to get their arms out, and very often resolves the habit of escapees!
  • If the 5 Point Plus doesn’t do the job, then it is time to consider a chest clip.  Chest clips are not very common in the UK, as they are illegal to sell on an R44 approved car seat.  However, the newer regulation R129 (iSize), does have an allowance for chest clips, so perhaps we will begin seeing more enter the market.
  • If you do add a chest clip, it must sit level with your child’s armpits.  If the chest clip is not in the correct position, on a correctly used harness, it can be very dangerous in a crash.
    • The chest clip must not interfere with the placement of the harness pads, as these are a tested part of the seat and must be used.
    • In countries where chest clips are used, they are highly misused and linked to injuries, so only use the chest clip for long enough to break the habit.
  • Finally, if you have tried all these points, and your child is still escaping from the car seat, you may need to consider changing their car seat.  In this instance, an impact shield car seat may work better, as these are almost escape proof and have no harness to wriggle our of some children prefer these as it doesn’t feel so restrictive.

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Help! My child takes their arms out of the car seat harness!

The harness on your car seat is the only thing holding your child into their car seat and protecting them if you crash – so it’s very worrying when they keep getting their arms out! 

This article looks at things you can do to help your little one keep their car seat harness on properly.

  • Check the height of your car seat harness – the shoulder straps should be as level with your child’s shoulders as possible.  If you cannot get the straps to sit level across their shoulders, then they may dip just below when rear facing, or sit just above the shoulders when forward facing
  • Remove any thick, puffy or padded winter clothing.  This creates a gap between the child and the harness, which gives them plenty of room to get their arms out! As a general rule of thumb, indoor clothing only when in the car seat!
  • Check that your harness is being pulled tight enough, you shouldn’t be able to pinch the harness webbing at all top to bottom.
  • “Out of sight out of mind” – once you have fastened up the harness, use at thin, hoodless jacket over the top, but put it on backwards, so the back of the jacket is covering the buckle, but their arms are in the sleeves.
  • You could try using a reward chart, where the child collects a star or sticker each journey they keep their arms in. Our lovely friends at Child Seat Safety have designed this one which is free to download! REWARD CHART

If none of the above works, then it’s time to try some other options:

  • 5 Point Plus Anti Escape Device – this is a fully crash tested device that sits behind the child and folds around the straps, just above the seat buckle.  It blocks the gap the child is using to get their arms out, and very often resolves the habit of escapees!
  • If the 5 Point Plus doesn’t do the job, then it is time to consider a chest clip.  Chest clips are not very common in the UK, as they are illegal to sell on an R44 approved car seat.  However, the newer regulation R129 (iSize), does have an allowance for chest clips, so perhaps we will begin seeing more enter the market.
  • If you do add a chest clip, it must sit level with your child’s armpits.  If the chest clip is not in the correct position, on a correctly used harness, it can be very dangerous in a crash.
    • The chest clip must not interfere with the placement of the harness pads, as these are a tested part of the seat and must be used.
    • In countries where chest clips are used, they are highly misused and linked to injuries, so only use the chest clip for long enough to break the habit.
  • Finally, if you have tried all these points, and your child is still escaping from the car seat, you may need to consider changing their car seat.  In this instance, an impact shield car seat may work better, as these are almost escape proof and have no harness to wriggle our of some children prefer these as it doesn’t feel so restrictive.

BACK TO BLOG